Orioles Christmas wishlist for 2023

It’s that time of year when shopping picks up, traffic is irritating and it seems like everyone wants to be at the same place at once. 

Here at The Baltimore Battery, we are all ready for the holidays with visions of pennants and trophies in our heads. Our bats are all snuggled with gloves on our hand, and instead of hot cocoa, Natty Bohs in a can. 

So, as we anxiously wait to get through the next day, we’ve brought you a list of fan wishes your way. It might be just six, but they are worth viewing. Just sit back and relax, and let the coffee start brewing.

1. Quality arms for a season once again

One of the biggest concerns for fans this offseason has been the lack of a first or second tier starter. But inside the team, did we really need one?

We traded the veteran leadership of Jordan Lyles for Kyle Gibson, a similar style pitcher who is four years older and has postseason experience. His knowledge and experience will be helpful to young arms such as Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells and especially Grayson Rodriguez.

The bullpen returns pretty much intact, with a couple of new additions to the group.

Mychel Givens returns to where it all began at a bargain of a deal and with more experience as well. Rule 5 Draft pick Andrew Politi has promise, and we will have a full season of Nick Vespi. 

There is a possibility of D.L. Hall and Austin Voth working out of the pen, and Mike Baumann should return to his role of long relief. With Bryan Baker, Dillon Tate, Cionel Pérez and Félix Bautista as locks, the O’s have a glutton of arms at their disposal.

2. Lock up the young guys

With so little moving done this offseason, outside of adding pieces to fill out the team, the next move would be to lock up the likes of Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson.

For years, these two have been dubbed as cornerstones of the O’s rebuild. Therefore, if they are this valuable, secure them for the long haul. 

Rutschman showed his effect on the club last season, as the team had a winning record with him as the leader, and the pitching staff ERA improved drastically.  

Henderson arrived towards the end of the season and provided a spark and energy boost to the team. He showed the ability to not only hit but also make an impact in the majors as a defensive sparkplug at just 21 years of age.

3. Mullins to have another 30/30 season

In 2021, Cedric Mullins became the first Oriole to join the 30/30 club. His display of power and speed turned the spotlight to him and garnered national attention as he was the only player to reach the 30 home run and 30 stolen base plateau that season. 

Last season saw Mullins take a step back, as his home run totals, batting average and on-base percentages all took a hit. Though he was still effective, his slow start to the season created an uphill climb for him.

For the most part, Mullins’ doubles, triples, walks, strikeouts and stolen base numbers were very similar to the previous season. The difference was 18 hits less than the previous season, falling 14 home runs short of another 30 homer campaign. 

Mullins does have the potential to have another 30/30 season, but having his OBP return to a near .360 clip would be a major benefit for the offense as a whole.  

4. A healthy 26

Of course, every team will deal with injuries throughout a season. But the better teams have the depth to counter the effect of a player being out for the short term.

One area the Orioles excelled at last season was depth. 

When John Means went down, many expected any chance of the Orioles taking a step forward was gone. Instead, players like Austin Voth, Spenser Watkins and Tyler Wells stepped up and helped fill the whole left by Means’ injury.

When Wells went down, Kyle Bradish took a huge step forward, and the emergence of Voth helped to negate the loss.  

In the field, Ramón Urías was lost for some time, while Anthony Santander and Austin Hays each had minor injuries.   

Players like Tyler Nevin, Terrin Vavra and Ryan McKenna all stepped up and displayed the ability to fill in without skipping a beat. This season, the Orioles have an even deeper depth core, as prospects Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz, Colton Cowser and Connor Norby are all knocking on the door.  

Injuries are a part of the game, but the best teams have the ability to work through them instead of being hurt by them. The Orioles probably have one of the deepest teams in the majors to fill holes that need patching.

5. A Rookie of the Year

Adley Rutschman arrived to the Orioles last season towards the end of May. An elbow strain delayed his debut by almost six weeks, but when he arrived, his impact was felt.  

From May 21 onward, the Orioles completed one of the largest turn-arounds in major league history and became the first team since 1899 to go from 110 losses the previous season to a 33-game improvement the following season. The big change was the arrival of Rutschman.

The Orioles would go 67-55 after Rutschman arrived, leading the way towards a second place finish for AL Rookie of the Year. Had Rutschman played a full season, the Orioles may have had a Rookie of the Year winner last season.  

The 2023 season offers hope that the Orioles could not only have a winner, but the possibility of a 1-2-3 finish, as Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers and Grayson Rodriguez will be joining the team for a full season. 

This doesn’t even take into account that prospects Westburg, Ortiz and Cowser could become full-time players, with D.L. Hall turning into form at the big league level.   

The Orioles 2023 season offers the best chance of a Rookie of the Year since their last winner, Gregg Olson, in 1989.  

6.  A postseason birth

In 2022, the Orioles were supposed to win less than 60 games and be closer to the bottom of the league standings. But the game isn’t played on paper, and the Birds went on to win 83 games.  

The O’s stayed in playoff contention until the final week of the season. They made for an exciting season and have had many fans clamoring for more.  

Is 2023 that season?   

With Rutschman, Henderson and Stowers all set to begin the season on the roster and Rodriguez and Hall set to be a part of the pitching staff to start the season, hopes are running high.  

This team, for sure, will provide excitement and should compete for a playoff spot this season, as there is little turnover from last season.

If anything, the Orioles have improved in key areas from last season. Adam Frazier and Gold Glove winner Ramón Urías will man second base, as they will be a major upgrade over Rougned Odor.

Henderson and his glove will be manning third base, while Stowers will slide into a corner outfield spot. That move allows Anthony Santander and his 30 home runs to move to the DH spot, if Brandon Hyde so chooses.  

The Orioles added Kyle Gibson, who will provide veteran leadership and guidance to a young staff that should take a step forward, especially from guys like Bradish and Kremer. 

This season will offer a lot to be hopeful for and is full of wishes for the fans. It definitely will provide some excitement and a chance for the Orioles to show that the rebuild has paid off.  

While these are only some of the wishes that are floating around Birdland, these are all wishes that can make a difference between success and achieving another step forward in the process.

All of us at The Baltimore Battery would like to wish everyone a merry and safe Christmas. While we peek under our trees, it’s the wishes of next season we hope to see come true.

What’s your biggest wish for the 2023 O’s season? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @SRJHeckman

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